Wichita Wingnuts Jake Kahaulelio Lost for Season, Hinshaw Dealt: Wingnuts Wire
The Wichita Wingnuts took a blow today when it was revealed that 2B Jake Kahaulelio was lost for the season with a thumb injury. The second part of the dynamic 1-2 punch in the Wingnuts batting order, referred affectionately as the “Circle Ks” by the Wingnuts Wire, was having an absolutely awesome season for the team.
Kahaulelio had proven to be a star in all aspects of the game for Wichita. He made a spectacular double-play combination with SS Ryan Khoury, and showed some good speed with 16 stolen bases. The 29-year-old was an absolute beast at the plate, hitting .327 with seven home runs, 59 RBI and 52 runs scored. He also showed great on-base ability posting a .398 on-base percentage. Clearly his presence will be missed in all aspects of the game.
To fill in at the top of the order, LF Jake Luce will remain as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup. Since being acquired just before the All-Star break, Luce has been having a monster influence in the order, hitting .392 with a home run and 10 RBI in 20 games He has also scored 20 runs and stolen five bases.
To replace Kahaulelio at second base, the team made a surprising move, acquiring Abel Nieves from the Grand Prairie AirHogs in exchange for closer Alex Hinshaw. The acquisition of Nieves is another brilliant move by GM Josh Robertson to bolster the team’s chances of winning the American Association championship, but to trade away Hinshaw was a surprise to say the least.
Last week closer “Dr.” Matt Nevarez was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates organization leaving a big gap for the team at the end of games. Hinshaw had pitched amazingly well this year, posting a 2.07 ERA and striking out 43 batters in just 30.1 innings pitched. He was also 2-1 with four saves, including having outstanding appearances to record saves in both of his chances since being handed the closer’s role.
It is assumed by the Wingnuts Wire that Mike Zouzalik will now take over the ninth inning for the team with Daniel Bennett taking over the primary setup role. Zouzalik does not have any saves yet this season, but has been on-fire lately. The righty has not given up an earned run in 11 straight appearances, and has given up just one in his last 21 appearances. He has not even given up a hit in seven straight appearances.
While giving up Hinshaw was a huge cost, the addition of Abel Nieves will be huge at the plate and in the field. In 82 games he is hitting .326 with two home runs and 35 RBI for the AirHogs. In addition he has scored 35 runs, and walked 35 times to give him an outstanding .392 OBP. While not having particularly huge run-production numbers, it should be remembered that he was on a team that was one of the lowest hitting teams in the league, and now that he is in the Wingnuts lineup it is likely that he will put up huge numbers now. With Luce manning the No. 2 spot in the lineup, Nieves will bat fifth with the rest of the order moving down one spot in the order.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA